Objective: The objectives of this study are, first, to replicate and extend an Australian approach to assessing mental health literacy by studying a sample of Singapore mental health professionals, and to focus on differences between judgements made by the psychiatrists in comparison with the other mental health professionals. Second, to compare the psychiatrists' judgements with those of Australian psychiatrists.
Method: The Australian questionnaire, assessing responses in relation to vignettes of major depression and to schizophrenia was extended by adding a third vignette of mania, and by the addition of several region-specific response options. Nearly 500 questionnaires were distributed to representative staff (psychiatrists, nurses and allied health) of a large psychiatric institution in Singapore, with a response rate of 81%. Psychiatrists' judgements were compared with all other hospital staff, and with Australian psychiatrists' judgements.
Results: The two principal contrast groups (Singapore psychiatrists and other Singapore mental health professionals) differed slightly in terms of diagnostic accuracy. The psychiatrists differed in favouring a more professionally focused model of intervention, while both professional groups viewed traditional healers and their practices as distinctly unhelpful. Direct comparison of psychiatrist ratings generated in Singapore and in Australia revealed quite similar response profiles.
Conclusions: In addition to generating data of some intrinsic importance, comparison with Australian survey data allows the potential impact of regional and cultural differences, as well as of varying psychiatric practices, to be identified. Responses identified more similarities than differences in the judgements of the psychiatrists from the two countries.